Try unconventional ways of carrying – DOTABUFF

Dota roles can be very flexible and one recent trend is a case in point. Many pro teams are currently experimenting with slightly unconventional Position One heroes with great success. Today we want to look at how and why this works so well.

Lina used to be one of the most reliable mids in the game. As such, whenever she was in the meta, there was little reason to play her unconventionally: she doesn’t really have bad mid-matchups. Lately, however, a safe lane position for Lina has become incredibly popular, and there are a number of reasons for that.

One of them is that nobody really plays Aghanim’s Lina anymore. The DPS for right-clicking Lina is more than comparable in most cases, and the burst damage Lina loses is more than offset by the reliability gained. Finally, Basic Attacks are not dependent on cooldown.

This requires Lina to have BKB and at least some DPS items, which of course leads her to early game farming rather than early game room building. Playing her mid is currently considered a bit too greedy, but she doesn’t really need a lot of levels to be a flash farming heroine.

The second reason is that Lina is an exceptionally strong laner. With her below-average BAT of 1.6, a strong built-in stun effect, long attack range, and powerful right-clicks, she can survive and even excel in almost any 2v2. Very few heroes have starting gear that strong, and with the recent +1 armor buff, she’s even stronger when she’s dealing punches.

In order to really stand out as Lina at position 1, some adjustments should be made to her skills and item build. The biggest game changer is probably Maelstrom. Gleipnir was introduced a while ago, but it’s only now that players are starting to realize its full potential. For a hero like Lina who doesn’t really want to get hit and doesn’t particularly care about bonus attack speed, Gleipnir is one of the better Maelstrom progressions for later in the game. So it’s a very smooth transition from a good farming item to a good fighting item that also provides guaranteed stuns.

The skill build on Lina is pretty interesting too. Her stat growth is already pretty good, but maxing out Light Strike Array and Fiery Soul but leaving Dragon Slave as a stat can really push it to the limit. The additional stats give Lina even more survivability and damage while keeping the Dragon Slave’s mana cost low. The last point is very important in the early game where you mainly use it to keep up the Fiery Soul stacks.

Otherwise the hero is pretty much the same. She usually still wants Boots of Travel relatively early, but can be terrifying with Maelstrom in BKB in the early game build. She can then switch to both Silver Edge and Daedalus, or simply upgrade to Satanic or Skadi. Since her built-in damage is overwhelming anyway, Lina usually only needs survivability.

The end result is a right-click core with an attack range of 670+, a main stat growth of 3.8, and a potential attack speed steroid of 385. The hero more or less combines the unique and powerful traits of Sniper and Troll Warlord while gaining access to incredibly powerful has nukes and stuns. Lina is very, very good – learn to play her before the hero is nerfed.

Position one SF isn’t new, but the approach is a bit different this time. It’s still primarily a right-click carry, but all players are taking early Shadowraze levels now because it’s a very powerful laning stage tool that shouldn’t be ignored. Finally the 0-4-4-0 Shadow Fiend build is completely gone from our pubs.

This new 4-4-0-1 build still goes for Mask of Madness to maximize farming speed, and then usually gets either Dragon Lance or Yasha depending on whether Manta Style or Hurricane Pike has priority.

It is also possible to choose BKB as one of your first items. Shadow Fiend has a ridiculous amount of built-in damage: Shadowraze is among the strongest nukes in the game, while Necromastery is a steroid with +175 attack damage. So, once again, the only problem to solve is survivability and the ability to actually dish out your damage.

An interesting trend that we think is a direct result of SF already having all the damage it needs is that many high-level players are now choosing Arcane Blink as one of their midgame items. Once you solve Survival Damage with BKB and Manta/Pike, you can make some big plays with the Arcane Blink.

It cuts down Requiem of Souls’ cast animation to around 0.85 seconds, making it very difficult to react to, especially in a frantic battle. It gives SF a ravage equivalent and turns SF into a very powerful glass cannon with very high teamfight impact. It also deals a very respectable amount of damage, and with an Aghanim Scepter across the board, you have access to it every 70 seconds, which is as ridiculous as it sounds.

Although Arcane Blink has priority, SF is still a right-click core: it simply becomes both a magic damage initiator and a conventional hard carry. As such, his talents almost always involve right-click damage: taking Shadowraze talents might seem like a good idea, but it’s usually a less reliable and less scalable way to play.

We believe that SF, similar to Lina, will receive many nerfs in the next patch, but for now, he remains one of the better heroes for highly skilled players. It requires a lot of skill to steer effectively, but the payoff is more than worth it.

The meta is evolving it seems. The process is incredibly slow given the age of the patch, but there are still new, obscure things to discover and heroes to research.

What are your hidden jewel heroes? Or maybe you feel that some heroes are overrated? Do share your thoughts in the comment section below.